Are you a local agriculturist who has ever wondered if you could be doing something “more” with what you produce? Are you someone who’s interested in small-scale food processing? Or are you a local restaurateur who’d like to see about bottling and selling the homemade barbecue sauce or dressing that your customers rave about?
If so, then you won’t want to miss the “Get Ready to Grow” workshop being held in the Fort St. James fire hall on Sept. 22 at 10:00 am. It’s a learning session about the value-added food business, co-sponsored by Beyond the Market (an economic development strategy run by Community Futures Fraser Fort George) and the Certified Organic Association of BC. However, Beyond the Market’s Jillian Merrick says that attendees don’t have to be certified organic to attend the session.
“It’s for anyone who wants information about value-added food businesses and how to get started,” she says. She describes value-added food businesses as ones where a basic piece of food is transformed into a product with a higher value to the consumer: turning meat into jerky, for example, or berries into preserves or ice cream.
“It’s aimed at folks who’ve got started in the agriculture sector but now want to go to the next level, or anyone interested in small-scale food processing,” she says. “And if a restaurant, for example, wants to get started producing its own product it can help them negotiate the regulatory environment.”
There are four main questions that the session sets out to answer. Can you transform food products into something more valuable? Are there buyers out there interested in your products? What regulations affect your industry? Is there a profit to be made?
Candice Appleby, Executive Director of the Small Scale Food Processors Association, will be facilitating the session and answering these questions. She is a provincial expert in the value-added food industry, with extensive experience in food safety programs and in financing farm ventures. In addition to the Fort St. James event, there will be workshops in Prince George, Vanderhoof, Smithers, Terrace, and Dunster.
Merrick is pleased to be able to continue to bring these workshops to Fort St. James, which was in danger of losing the Beyond the Market program due to limited funds on the part of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako. “The RDBN found it challenging to offer these workshops in Vanderhoof and Smithers, and there was no funding for Fort St. James. So the District stepped up and came in as a partner in 2014 to make up the shortfall and ensure that people here can still get access to the sessions.”
Get Ready to Grow is free of charge for all who want to attend. To register, please contact Jillian Merrick at 250-562-9622, ext. 115.